HTML <map> Tag

The HTML <map> tag is used for defining an image map.

Image maps are images that have clickable areas (sometimes referred to as "hot spots"). Each of these clickable areas can lead to a different location. Therefore, an image map could potentially have many links that lead to many different URLs.

The <map> tag is used along with the <area> and <img> tags to define the image map.

To create an image map, you use the <map> tag to declare the image map, and the <area> tag (nested within the <map> tag) to define the clickable areas. The <img> tag can be defined elsewhere on the page, and is linked to the <map> element using the name attribute.


The <map> tag is typically written like this <map name=""></map> with the <area> tag nested between the start and end tags. The name attribute is used by any <img> elements that use this particular image map.

Like this:



Geographical maps are a great candidate for applying an image map to. Using a graphic of a map, you can create clickable areas to indicate different geographical locations (eg, cities, provinces, or whole countries or continents).

The image below displays an image of two different countries. Each country is linked to a different URL. This is made possible by using an image map (i.e. <map> in conjunction with the <area> tag). The <img> element references the image map by using the usemap attribute. The value of the usemap attribute must be the same as the value of the <map>'s name attribute.

Basic Shapes

The above map example uses a shape of poly to display a polygon. A polygon is more complex than a simple shape such as a rectangle or circle. You can specify a polygon using either polygon or poly as a value of the shape attribute.

You can also use shape names to draw a rectangle (rectangle or rect) or a circle (circle or circ).

Below is an example of an image map consisting of a rectangle, circle, and a polygon.


Attributes can be added to an HTML element to provide more information about how the element should appear or behave.

There are 3 kinds of attributes that you can add to your HTML tags: Element-specific, global, and event handler content attributes.

The <map> element accepts the following attributes.

Element-Specific Attributes

This table shows the attributes that are specific to the <map> tag/element.

nameAssigns a name to the image map. Note that if the id attribute is also specified, it must contain the same value as the name attribute.

Global Attributes

The following attributes are standard across all HTML5 elements. Therefore, you can use these attributes with the <map> tag , as well as with all other HTML tags.

For a full explanation of these attributes, see HTML 5 global attributes.

Event Handler Content Attributes

Event handler content attributes enable you to invoke a script from within your HTML. The script is invoked when a certain "event" occurs. Each event handler content attribute deals with a different event.

Below are the standard HTML5 event handler content attributes.

Again, you can use any of these with the <map> element, as well as any other HTML5 element.

For a full explanation of these attributes, see HTML 5 event handler content attributes.

Differences Between HTML 4 & HTML 5

In HTML5, if the both the name and the (global) id attributes are specified, they must both contain the same value.

To see more detail on the two versions see HTML5 <map> Tag and HTML4 <map> Tag. Also check out the links to the official specifications below.


Here's a template for the <map> tag with all available attributes for the tag (based on HTML5). These are grouped into attribute types, each type separated by a space. In many cases, you will probably only need one or two (if any) attributes. Simply remove the attributes you don't need.

For more information on attributes for this tag, see HTML5 <map> Tag and HTML4 <map> Tag.

Tag Details

For more details about the <map> tag, see HTML5 <map> Tag and HTML4 <map> Tag.


Here are the official specifications for the <map> element.

What's the Difference?

W3C creates "snapshot" specifications that don't change once defined. So the HTML5 specification won't change once it becomes an official recommendation. WHATWG on the other hand, develops a "living standard" that is updated on a regular basis. In general, you will probably find that the HTML living standard will be more closely aligned to the current W3C draft than to the HTML5 specification.